Born:

Greenwich, CT  1962

 

 

Education

Master of Science in Art Education, University of Bridgeport  1989

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts, Syracuse University  1984

 

Ceci n’est pas une peinture

These are not paintings. They are digital photos of the record of a series of physical gestures that produced what you see. The painting itself has weight and volume, texture, and it reflects different lighting conditions in differing ways.

 

I made these with fluids and powdered stones

Oil paint is ground down rock (Cadmium, let’s say. Cd, or atomic number 48) mixed with a medium of oil from a flax plant, and mixed to a consistency so that it might be spread with a brush. Oily mud.

 

Painting is alchemy

The painting is a conclusion of the workings of liquid and stone. Like an alchemist, we painters have the ultimate goal of turning solids into liquid, and finally back into a substance hardened and rigid, arranged in such a way as to form a picture. One that, hopefully, engages anyone who looks at it.

 

A struggle to control the uncontrollable

You’re  looking at a third generation image, not at the physical painting itself. That now bygone endeavor involved its own meanings, its own logic, even before it was shaped into the face or hands that you see. To a painter, this picture is the end result of a number of ideas and the action of pushing the paint, diluting and mixing, breathing the fumes, dripping oils, the tug of the brushes, wiping them off. Non-verbal thoughts and deliberation are intermixed with the objects and concepts we can name, the figures and forms that are being represented.

 

The painting is of the body, and it is a body

The resultant image is corporeal. The stretched cotton canvas bears witness to the application and movement of gypsum ground, the touch and pressure of the charcoal in the underdrawing, colored slurries of turpentine and pigment. Dabs and stabs with the brush, fingertips, a knife, come forward and recede, somehow congealing into sky, earth, flesh. The painting is supposed to look like skin, and indeed it is a viscous substance, kin to sweat and fat, representing itself: skin as paint, or paint as skin, scabbed up, revealing the musculature, the fluid humours, and the skeletal framework supporting its weight and very presence.

 

Hand and eye

The sorcery in this act is that the orchestrated substances occupy the mind. We are made to see an image, to have our senses stirred. What is not really there other than as buttery dabs of pigment, seems to be valid for us. The lie is made convincing. We respond. We may feel a certain itchy sense of satisfaction or dissatisfaction in our own bodies. Moods may get tangled. We respond to specific marks and the way that they were made: here violent and here graceful. The brushstroke is the record of the hand moving across the canvas, evidence of speed and force. Gestures, scratches, scrapes, waves, jabs, drags and pushes work the surface in order to make a point.

 

The framed object

Painting is a noun and a verb, and neither is complete without the other. The finished piece on the wall is the outcome of an act, the conclusion of a huge preoccupation and time spent in the studio. The painting is a thing, entrancing and illusory, made with a love of materials and subject, valued on its own terms.

 

As in all things, there is more than just the surface. A digital image or print cannot let us smell or taste or touch this experience, but I thank you very much for looking.

 

Mark Gleason